You've seen the ads by now for various online schools; all encouraging you to sign up today and get to work on advancing your education.
The selling point is that you can earn your degree from anywhere.
However, what these businesses are not telling you is that you could be wasting your time and money.
Even though acceptance of online degrees is said to be on the rise, it could be that your particular school isn't seen as particularly credible.
Before signing up for an online degree program at an internet-only college, perhaps there are some things you should consider.
Online School vs. Online Degree
The first thing to know is that online degrees and online schools are not mutually exclusive. There are accredited colleges that have online courses. Sometimes only certain classes are available in an online format. Other times, the entire degree can be earned online.
If you receive a degree from an accredited, respected institution, that will matter far more than if you earned that degree online.
The Trouble With Scams and Diploma Mills
A huge part of the reason that online degrees were seen as suspect is because many of the businesses had no background in education whatsoever.
A study by the National Bureau for Economic Research found that many of these for-profit institutions were nothing more than "agile predators":
We [f]ind that for-profit students end up with higher unemployment and “idleness” rates and lower earnings six years after entering programs than do comparable students from other schools, and that they have far greater student debt burdens and default rates on their student loans.
It's believed that many of these schools exist to make money rather than provide students with the tools necessary to obtain a career after they've earned a degree.
Credibility A Code Word For Bigotry?
Another interesting fact noted is that these online schools tend to target persons who are poor, minorities, stay at home moms, and the elderly.
Why is this interesting?
— UPenn APSC (@UPennAPSC) July 22, 2014
Could it be that online schools are distrusted not merely because of the format of education, but because they reach out to so-called undesirables?
It's something to consider.
Although diplomas advertised on television may fill you with skepticism, they still represent something for which to be thankful: A continuous call to better one's self and seek to create better career opportunities.
The best thing you can do is to research the institution's history and find out if it's a trusted school. Also be on the lookout for reviews and testimonials.
These steps to become better informed should prepare you to make the right decision about getting an online education.